Understanding intelligence

April 2015 Cyber Security

Guarding nuclear warheads against terrorism and the threat of international theft has probably changed little since the days of Mutually Assured Destruction and the ploys of the Cold War back in the 1970s and 1980s. There still remains a requirement for 100% security in whatever manner that may be rolled out.

In the army it required an on-site guarding force of over 150 soldiers fully armed and empowered to shoot based upon a series of physical barriers that progressively escalated to the final result; last barrier and we shot to kill. Today, we now replace guards with a range of sophisticated electronic surveillance tools, but can the current evolving intelligent surveillance remove all guards from the site?

Intelligence is gained from many aspects of surveillance that does not necessarily require a picture. Access control presumes that the person entering a PIN code or using a card is actually the owner of the card; but we know that employees gave their job cards to the junior employee to clock on, and so guards, then cameras and finally biometrics were used to confirm the living status of the enroller. Now we can use fingerprints, vein, palm and iris scans, chips under the skin, facial recognition, body weight, licence identification and the list goes on.

Evolving intelligence

Video analytics has evolved from video motion detection (pixel change) to assessing a shape and applying a set of rules; move in a particular manner, change or add an object, dwell, remove, cross a series of lines all provide an algorithm for a trigger/alarm. The simplest example is a thermal imaging camera used for perimeter detection; it is there to detect the heat profile differential.

If the target image is too small, you cannot differentiate between an animal/person so you need to get the pixel count right. If you establish it is a person you now need an alternative means to identify who that person may be, especially if it is in the pitch black of the night without lights.

To resolve this situation, you need to add to that thermal imaging camera, a means of lighting, a second camera, possibly a barrier, and finally a reaction to the threat in terms of the security guard physically dealing with the matter or employing additional products, such as a speaker to effect verbal warnings. The solution to this scenario may entail a variety of different costs, but consider the use of a traditional patrolling guard might have meant the intruder was not seen at all. What do you want?

Assessing the requirement must always start with understanding the client’s needs and what the client wants to achieve? Then start to provide the products to satisfy those needs and develop your deployment plan to create the barriers that you need to realise final objectives. With any device, the first step must be ‘give it a job description’. If it is the thermal camera you want to be able to detect and reasonably identify what the object is – human or animal. The same goes for any other means of surveillance; it must have the job description and therefore a means of assessing a response to provide the trigger you want.

Central management

Recent years have seen access control solutions providing a central management system (CMS) with integration options for cameras, fire and safety, plus other alarm interfaces from perimeter protection and intrusion devices. Invariably these require a standalone access control server, with the second tier integration elements on their own servers. If access control is your main requirement then this may be your first choice.

Video management systems (VMS) focus on cameras with the leading solutions providing a generous open architecture option for most camera brands. These VMS platforms now provide integration options for access control, point of sale, video analytics and other alarm interfaces, however most of these integration systems need to run on their own server.

The point here is what is your focus? If you want to manage 100 cameras on the VMS then you will require a high-end server with the ability to process a large amount of data throughput. If you now start adding analytics to the same server, then you must consider the processing requirements. A standard licence plate server will permit a limited number of lanes for automated processing; NDI Recognition System’s 260 km per hour ANPR solution permits four lanes of plate read and four lanes of overview per server only. If you now want to record an additional 50 cameras it is not going to happen.

Physical security information management (PSIM) normally sits above the layers of video management, access control, video analytics, perimeter security, fire and safety, providing an overall integration into each system, but allowing them to remain standalone. This permits the PSIM to run as many as 60 or 70 different integration drivers into one PSIM. A great choice, but each driver and its integration come at a higher cost than integrating simple functions taken into a CMS or VMS. The recommendation is to consider very carefully what it is you want to achieve and realise that the more analytics you add on your server the bigger the impact on the server performance.

Edge technologies

An option to solve this integration dilemma is the introduction of edge technologies. Let us put the analytics processing on the camera and let the camera provide alarm information only, allowing us to choose what we want to stream from the camera. If we are going to process on the camera then why not let the camera act as its own network video recorder and now provide the control room access when needed. We can take away the need to run a camera into a small third-party device (server) and stream directly to the control room. Obviously there comes an economy of scale when you consider how many individual cameras are in a particular area where a local server might be more beneficial and reduces overall costs.

The edge camera looks no different from any other camera, therefore it is not easily identified or targeted as the one to watch. Using the edge camera has the advantage of being its own networked video recorder (NVR) or video analytics tool that now provides a simpler solution; no streaming of large data prior to CPU intensive analytics. This creates a reduced data stream for an alarm for rapid response, easier wireless transmission, or quicker identification of a problem licence plate at probably a lower price, removing the need for an on-site server as it is all on the camera.

In each of the above scenarios, we do need to work back to some form of control. This can be a simple on-device mobile application for iOS, Android and Windows platforms that permit an alarm trigger/notification, a camera stream and a means of action in terms of an output, allowing for the decision making process to be theoretically simpler. This is fine for low scale deployments, but where there are a larger number of cameras, a mix of solutions interacting with one VMS in the control room must be a more appropriate route.

Useful intelligence

Information only becomes intelligent when it is used with all other available information to provide the basis for a decision and perhaps a result. Identifying a licence plate on a vehicle correctly could mean the gate will automatically open, but is the plate correct for the vehicle entering or is it a duplicate plate? A second check could be a card or biometric read to endorse the plate read prior to the automatic gate opening; a stepped process increasing reliability and accuracy rates. Depending upon your level of required security, you would probably see an operator monitoring the events that transpire to ensure the highest probability of success.

Vision Catcher provides a range of solutions that cover the complete security field. Acting as a recognised importer, distributor and integrator of select solutions permits us to offer and define products that work in the environments they are specified for and provide easy answers to the integrators and installers we support and their end-user clients. Video analytics and video management systems (VMS) are all covered including our preferred VMS, exacq from Tyco, with an international preference as an open architecture solution for a wide range of camera brands. The simplicity of the edge, client-server and enterprise design enables cost effective and straightforward deployment at all levels of integration for cameras, access control, video analytics, point of sale and other alarm driven interfaces.

For more information, contact Vision Catcher, +27 (0)11 463 9797, info@visioncatcher.co.za, www.visioncatcher.co.za


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